Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano joins with local fire officials...

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano joins with local fire officials for a first ever statewide effort, Recruit NY, to increase volunteer firefighter numbers throughout New York State. (April 6, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Fire departments across Long Island will take part in a new statewide initiative to bolster the volunteer ranks, which have been dwindling.

During the "Recruit NY" weekend, organized by the state's Firemen's Association, volunteer fire departments across the state will hold open houses for tours and give out information to residents on how to become members. Many local departments will participate.

"It's a great way to get involved in your community," Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said at a news conference held Wednesday at the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center. "Consider becoming one of Nassau's bravest."

Free tuition at both counties' community colleges, under a federal grant secured by Nassau and Suffolk, and a small break on property taxes are some of the perks enjoyed by volunteers. To qualify for free tuition, the volunteer must make a five-year commitment and maintain a 2.0 average.

In Bellerose, volunteers placed signs on their lawns and public areas, and fliers have been sent to homeowners.

"It can be intimidating for the men and women to come down to the firehouse by themselves," said ex-Chief John Cortapasso. "This is an easy way to learn."

The Elmont Fire District recently held a recruiting drive in Elmont Memorial and Sewanhaka high schools, and more than 70 students expressed interest.

"We are out there in the community every day," said Elmont Chief Domenic Francavilla, whose department will hold the open house Sunday.

The museum, located in Garden City, will give free smoke detectors to visitors, said Angelo Catalano, North Bellmore volunteer and museum chairman.

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